The Colossus at Rhodes
By | July 4, 2019
Situated along the southern boundary of the Aegean Sea, the island of Rhodes is widely known for its beaches, charming towns, and abundance of shops and restaurants catering to tourists from around the world. For ancient history buffs, on the other hand, the island is synonymous with one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes.
Due to its advantageous position along numerous trade routes between ancient Mediterranean civilizations, the island of Rhodes quickly grew to economic and military prominence. Nominally aligned with Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars, the island successfully maintained neutrality in the conflict and continued to grow more populous and prosperous.
In 408 BCE, the main settlements on the island united and began construction on the city of Rhodes—a planned town that would allow for expanded commerce and more formalized civic and governmental institutions. The grand city had extensive sewage and water systems, a deep harbor, and a thriving commercial sector.
Rhodian success drew attention and ire from its larger rivals on the Anatolian mainland, and it was invaded first by its immediate neighbor and then the expanding Persian Empire in the middle of the 4th century BCE. By 332 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Rhodes, and it remained a thriving Macedonian port until his death nearly 10 years later.
During the dissolution of the Macedonian Empire, Rhodes remained aligned with Ptolemy’s Egypt. This union allowed for near-complete dominance of trade between the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, and Rhodes reached new heights of prosperity, advancement, and power.